Ren's Ramblings & Writings

Contemplations on things tangible and intangible

Friday, August 20, 2010

My responses to the following online health care system discussion post

The initial student's post:
"Prof. and class...I am sorry to be the harbinger of doom and gloom, however, I do not see good things for the field of healthcare management in the future. Let me say this first...there are going to be some serious challenges to be faced in the near future because the specter of disaster, environmental changes, and terrorism looms close on the horizon. Medical personnel are the "first responders" in any disaster...however, our medical facilities are not equipped to handle mass emergencies as was evidenced with the most recent domestic disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Midwest tornadoes, or earthquakes.
I used to work in downtown Atlanta, about 2 blocks away from one of the largest hospital systems in the city, Grady Hospital. A report was released that said that the hospital would not be able to handle and was not prepared to handle a serious terrorist attack mainly because --- in the event of a disaster probably 50% of the medical personnel would be hurt or killed. I nearly lost my mind, but thankfully I don't work downtown anymore. But, that report stays in the back of my mind.
We already have existing shortages of medical personnel such as nurses. If I were 20 years younger and 30 years wiser I would go back to school for a medical career...if only to get the knowledge of what to do in an emergency and have the ability to actually make a difference in the world. I am quite sure my family would appreciate my knowledge of treating wounds and disease, rather than getting their taxes done, in the case of a terrorist attack."
My Responses:

       It's so easy to look at those situations and see all that is bad or isn't working, the inadequacies. To quote Jim Carrey:
"...It's when we watch the news, when we watch entertainment, it's about peoples' conflicts, tied together in the most exciting, possible way. And you imagine that the world is this explosive, horrifying place. And the news is all this negativity condensed. It really is not representative of what the world is, or what the world was."
Yes, there are seeming shortcomings that you see, but then look at what happens when good people come together. It's a terrific reminder that we really, truly are, ok.

I came across this story which involves doctors, and I'm sure, an innumerable network of medical and non-medical staff.. proving that the world (and the medical systems) are not the horrible thing they sometimes seem to be. Yes, we have uninsured in America and other countries, but look what happens when people pull together!  In this particular case, baby girl was rescued after spending two days in the hospital rubble after the recent earthquake in Haiti.  The baby, Landina, was in the hospital being treated for severe burns when the hospital was destroyed by the earthquake.  After rescue, she was brought to a field hospital run by Doctors without Borders, where a British surgeon had to amputate her right arm, and this same surgeon realized that without surgery for the burn injuries, she would die. Her brain had been so injured by the housefire that her brain was exposed, risking infection.  The doctor set her up with Facing the World, a British charity that brought Landina to Londay, paying for her travel and medical costs, and acting as her guardian.  A journalist then traveled to Haiti to try to find her parents, which was challenging because all hospital records had been destroyed, and they did not even know the baby's name. But, they eventually found Landina's family and she was reunited with her mother, after a DNA test proved that Seignon was Landina's mother. Facing the World even helped Seignon travel to London to her little girl who she'd not seen in at least six months, thinking the whole time that her baby was dead.

We definitely have to have a realistic view of the world, but it serves no positive or constructive purpose to focus on the bad things or what-ifs or negative possibilities. We are not alone-EVER! Even NY wasn't alone during 9-11. All of America, and even other countries responded! When it comes to disasters, we will never be alone, nor will we be expected to overcome it alone. Yes, our system is imperfect. And we can always benefit from average citizens being trained in 1st Aid and CPR. But the health field is making huge strides in all sectors, for-profit, nonprofit, and not-for-profit, always working to improve everyday healthcare access and service. And in this constant strive for improvement, we will also benefit during times of disasters, because, in our country, we are never alone.

Now, our imperfect system is made up of people, who can sometimes cause shortcomings, such as the country's slow response when Katrina hit. That was not a medical system problem, nor was it a shortcoming in the medical system of Louisiana. Nothing could be expected to survive Katrina; rather, the problems at that time were a combination of human-error and miscalculation, misjudgement, lack of coordination of relief efforts, etc (outside of Louisiana).

If something happens in Atlanta, just like NY, medical personnel and others will come to you. Because that's what America does.

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